Turkey, World, Europe

'Almost all masjids, graveyards of Kos island ruined'

Turkish cultural association says Greece bankrupts Muslim foundations in Kos island by forcing sale of properties

Fatih Hafiz Mehmet   | 05.08.2019
'Almost all masjids, graveyards of Kos island ruined' Mustafa Kaymakci, the president of the Rodes, Kos and the Dodecanese Turks Cultural and Solidarity Association (FILE PHOTO)

ANKARA

A Turkish cultural association said on Monday that almost all mosques and graveyards on Greece's Kos (Istankoy) island were "ruined" and closed to worship. 

The Rhodes, Kos and the Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Association urged Greece to respect the freedom of religion of the Kos Turkish community prior to the Eid-al Adha (Muslim feast of sacrifice) festival.

The organization's president, Mustafa Kaymakci, said in a written statement that the Algerian Gazi Hasan Pasha (Lonca) Mosque has yet to be repaired following a 2017 earthquake that damaged the structure.

Founded by Turks who migrated from Rhodes and Kos to Turkey, the association is based in the western province of Izmir on the Turkish Aegean coast.

Kaymakci said that shops under the mosque -- which were owned by the Kos Muslim Foundation Properties Management -- were also damaged.

He underlined that another mosque in Germe (Platini) village on the island was damaged due to the earthquake. However, the restoration of the mosque was not permitted with local Muslims forced to use its courtyard for their daily prayers.

"Masjids, tombs and graveyards of Kos are neglected and almost all are ruined," he stressed.

Kaymakci said that places for worship and other pious endowments on Kos are normally run by the Kos Muslim Foundation Properties Management.

"However, Greece makes the foundations bankrupt," he said, adding that Athens forced the foundations sell their properties despite international agreements.

Muslim pious endowments in the Western Thrace region of Greece as well as Rhodes and Kos are part of the heritage of the Ottoman era, and are today administered by people appointed by Athens.

Kaymakci said that 34 acres of land on Kos belonging to a Muslim foundation were recently sold to a tourism company well below its real price.

Similarly, more than 70 parcels -- also Muslim foundation properties -- had previously been sold to municipalities, he said.

Kaymakci added that the properties of Muslim foundation in Rhodes island were also sold in the same way.

"We request Greece end assimilation policies which have been applied to Turks on the islands and to respect the freedom of religion and worship of the Kos Turk society prior to feast of sacrifice," he said.

Rhodes and Kos islands are home to a 6,000 Muslim-Turkish minority.

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